A growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers from California are calling for better safety standards and investigations into facilities that hold immigrant detainees.
In a report released this week, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General outlined problems at a sample of detention facilities throughout the country. Agents say they found "significant issues" at four of the facilities, including Santa Ana City Jail.Earlier this year, inspectors found dirty, moldy facilities at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange County and rotten meat being served to detainees. They also found that many of the facility's phones were broken, there was an excessive use of solitary confinement, detainees did not have a way to properly file grievances and high and low-risk detainees were often housed together.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ended the contract with Santa Ana in February after city officials voted unanimously to phase it out by 2020.
DHS inspectors wrote that a Santa Ana jail guard yelled at immigrant detainees "in a hostile and prolonged rant" that included the threat of a lock down. Detainees there also reported long waits for medical care. Auditors also found that guards regularly strip searched all immigrant detainees, which goes against newer policies that state immigrant detainees should only be strip searched with reasonable suspicion based on “specific and articulable facts that would lead a reasonable officer to believe that a specific detainee is in possession of contraband.”